Is your patience being tried? Or, perhaps you are trying someone’s patience?
7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:7-11, ESV)
Patience is a virtue … indeed! I often find my self feeling rather un-virtuous in this regard. What words come to mind when you think of patience? (waiting, anticipation, endurance, steadfastness, suffering, perseverance, relief, satisfaction)
James links our patience with the coming of the Lord, gives us an agrarian analogy, and then reinforces it with the reminder of the imminent return of the Lord. Let’s not overlook the importance of this precept. We have a greater reason to be patient than anyone who is lost … this is all temporary! Our troubles, our frustrations, our pain, our fear, … all the things that remind us of our not-yet-glorified, not-yet-fully-perfected, mortal state. Our citizenship is in Heaven and, at any moment, our King will take us home to be with Him in glory forever! Jesus is coming soon! We will be glorified … made perfectly whole in Him.
And when our King – the Righteous Judge – returns, justice will be executed. So, in demonstrating patience with one another, don’t go around grumbling and complaining about each other. Be sure of your right relationship with the Lord and with others lest you are condemned as well. It’s quite likely that none of us has had to endure as Job did … we can certainly follow his example and learn from his dialog with his wife, his friends, and God.
But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. (James 5:12)
This clearly aligns with Jesus teaching from the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:33-37) that our word alone should carry the reputation of being reliable and trustworthy. Following James exhortation to patience, this lays a solid foundation for avoiding things that confound patience. Don’t over-commit yourself … you’ll only end up frustrating yourself and others. At the same time, be certain to follow-through on that to which you do commit.